There’s a phrase you’ve probably heard that goes like this: “A mile wide and an inch deep.”
According to Urban Dictionary, the phrase is used to describe somebody who seems smart and intelligent at first, but is found to be less-than impressive after you spend time getting to know them.
These folks are perfectly capable of holding their own for a few minutes. But once you start to drill down into their knowledge base, it becomes quite clear they know just enough to be dangerous.
Sadly, I fear that is how a lot of public relations professionals are viewed, and I’ll use myself as an example.
Just over a year ago, I was pitching stories about General Motors fleet vehicles to fleet trades.
When I switched jobs, I focused on stories around the 3D printing of automotive parts and artificial intelligence (along with, seemingly, everybody else in the field.)
When I lost my job at the end of last year, I started working with a new agency where the majority of my clients are in the commercial real estate business.
Fleet vehicles. 3D printing. Commercial real estate.
Can you think of three more disparate industries?
I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking my expertise on these subjects amounted to me being “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
But the basic tenets of public relations storytelling remain the same, no matter which topics you pitch.
It doesn’t matter if I’m pitching WIRED for a story about artificial intelligence’s impact on manufacturing or the Detroit Free Press for a story about Detroit’s real estate rebirth.
If I can uncover trends and offer experts who can speak to those trends, I’m able to land coverage, even if I don’t have a deep well of knowledge in either subject.
And by keeping tabs on what reporters on specific beats are covering, I can tailor my pitches to their interests.
These are PR tactics that have withstood the test of time, and every public relations practitioners should practice them.
I’ve written before that in order to be helpful to a reporter, you need need to focus on certain activities.
If you weave them into your repertoire, you will be successful, no matter what story you pitch.